Solving Glaze Settling with Epsom Salt Solution

Last week, I decided to make some of my tried and true ceramic glazes for a firing that I had planned. I typically add about a 1/4 cup of a dissolved epsom salt solution to a 5,000 gram bucket of new glaze to flocculate it. 

This keeps the glaze in suspension and also aids problem settling or “hard panning” of glaze chemicals which makes it easier to stir and use again at a later date. After I made my glaze, I realized that I had used up my dissolved epsom salt solution and needed to make more. 

Solving Glaze Settling with Epsom Salt Solution
Solving Glaze Settling with Epsom Salt Solution

The only problem is that I couldn’t quite remember the recipe or ratio of epsom salts to water. Google to the rescue!

Solving Glaze Settling with Epsom Salt Solution Recipe

The container that keep my epsom salt solution in holds 32 ounces of water. You would need to adjust your recipe depending on how much you need or the size of container that you will be using to store it.

  • Heat 32 ounces of water and add to mixing bowl.
  • Add 1/4 cup of epsom salts at a time to the water and stir to dissolve. 
  • When the epsom salts do not dissolve anymore, you will have your solution.

In my case, it worked out to about 2 cups of epsom salts to 32 ounces of water. 

Although, after watching John Britt’s YouTube video, I should probably be adding a bentonite solution first  before deciding whether I need epsom salt as well. His bentonite recipe is 2 tbsp bentonite to 1 cup of water which can then be added to the glaze at 1 tbsp increments.

Here is another great video where John Britt describes the difference between flocculated and deflocculated glazes, why it happens and what to do about it.


Spring Horseshoe Market Wrap-up

On Saturday, I participated in the Spring Horseshoe Market in Denver. My friend Sarah and I shared a booth because we had both just finished the Colorado Potters Guild Show the weekend prior. Needless to say, individually, we had low inventory thanks to the back to back sales. But, by sharing a booth, we were able to fill up the space nicely. Also, we saved a little bit of money sharing a booth – the cost to share a booth as a vendor is $100 each as of spring 2017. The price to reserve an single booth is $150.

Spring Horseshoe Market Wrap-up

Spring Horseshoe Market Wrap-Up - Me (on left) and Sarah Christensen
Spring Horseshoe Market Wrap-Up – Me (on left) and Sarah Christensen

Unlike the Colorado Potters Guild Sale where everyone’s work is all mixed up, we decided to split the booth in half. In the photo above, I took the left hand side, Sarah took the right hand side. While our work is different from each other’s, it complemented and did not compete the other’s. Our booth was sandwiched between an active wear clothier and a personal care product business.

The organizers of the Horseshoe Market do an amazing job curating the event to make sure that there is not too much of any one kind of product and that the indie artisans are interesting for shoppers. Load in and out is very well organized which takes a lot of the guess work and chaos out of set up and break down.

Crowds and Sales

I had really low expectations sales wise at the Spring Horseshoe Market since I had just participated in the Colorado Potters Guild Sale and didn’t have a ton of inventory. 

CeramicScapes - Wall Pods and New Ceramic Wall Hangings
CeramicScapes – Wall Pods and New Ceramic Wall Hangings

I suppose it’s always good to exceed expectations, because that is exactly what happened. There were steady crowds throughout the day which tapered around 2:30/3:00 pm or so. The crowd was very diverse in age, gender and family status. As a vendor, I always love people watching and also interacting with everyone who wanders into my booth. 

Of course there were lots of dogs in attendance. As a side note, I wish I had taken some photos of all the 4 and in some cases, 3 legged creatures who found refuge from the sun in our booth. I recently started following Dogspotting on Facebook and scroll through the photos when I need a pick me up. I could have contributed so many photos of doggos and puppers this weekend. 🙂

The Weather

Unlike the past couple of Spring Horseshoe Markets where the weather has been iffy, we enjoyed beautiful sunny skies and warm temps this weekend. In fact, it was almost too hot, but I’ll take that over the rain and hail that Denver experienced earlier in the week. Note to self – don’t forget hat, spf 60 and more water than you think you can drink. The market is in the parking lot of a funeral home. Asphalt gets really warm as soon as the sun starts beating down. 

CeramicScapes - Spring Horseshoe Market Booth Set Up
CeramicScapes – Spring Horseshoe Market Booth Set Up

Booth Set Up

I used my new collapsible shelves that my father in law made for me at this show. All I can say, is thank you best FIL in the world! The shelves work well and when they’re broken down, take up very little space in my car. Since I shared space this time, I had to fit all of my work on one side. I’ll be participating in the Summer Horseshoe Market on July 8th, so I will be able to spread out my work.  I plan on making an L with my two 6′ long tables on the right, leaving the lattice on a dedicated wall for my hanging work. I might also debut some of my sketches at the next market.  

That’s it for today…I took yesterday (Mother’s Day) off and today, this blog post is my big task. I’m going to the movies this afternoon with my daughter who is home from college for the summer.

 

Meet Jackson Gray of JackPots Pottery

Jackson Gray is the creative force behind her business she has cleverly named Jackpots Pottery. While Jackson utilizes a variety of techniques to decorate her ceramic work, I just love her sgraffito tiles and I think you will too.

Jackson Gray - JackPots Pottery
Jackson Gray – Jackpots Pottery

Please Introduce Yourself:

Hi, I’m Jackson Gray, a studio potter from San Diego, CA. My pottery business is called Jackpots Pottery.

Jackson Gray of JackPots Pottery Working in Her Studio
Jackson Gray of JackPots Pottery Working in Her Studio

How did your clay journey begin?

I came to clay after years of thinking I had no artistic talent (thanks to a high school art teacher’s advice to stick with math). While hiking one day, I fell into step with an acquaintance who asked me what I would do if I didn’t have to work for a living. I told him I had always wanted to throw clay on a pottery wheel. I swear I didn’t know that he manufactured potters wheels for a living. Long story short, I have been working with clay since that day in 1992. I learned mostly from community college classes and by taking workshops in San Diego and around the U.S.

Jackson Gray of JackPots Pottery - Sgraffito Platter Based on a Photo of a Heron Rookery Jackson's Husband Took
Jackson Gray of Jackpots Pottery – Sgraffito Platter Based on a Photo of a Heron Rookery Jackson’s Husband Took

You employ a number of surface decoration techniques including adding texture using printmaking techniques, slip inlay and sgraffito. I am particularly drawn to your sgraffito work – your tiles are fabulous! Why not concentrate on one technique or style?

Thank you, I love the sgraffito too, but it is really hard on my body. I have carpel tunnel, but have the issue under control by using a wrist brace and taking frequent breaks. This is not to say that I would do only sgraffito if my wrist would allow it.

I’m a bit crazy when it comes to texture and am always looking for something new. One thing I do is carve lino mats to use as a template. I realize having one cohesive look would be more “professional” looking, but when I have just shown the sgraffito work at craft fairs, I couldn’t cover my expenses. My booth was gorgeous but people weren’t spending their money there.

Jackson Gray of JackPots Pottery - Booth at Craneway Winter Crafts Show 2016
Jackson Gray of Jackpots Pottery – Booth at Craneway Winter Crafts Show 2016

Your sgraffito tiles have a narrative quality to them. What is your inspiration or where do you find your subject matter for your tiles?

Jackson Gray of JackPots Pottery - Surfer Girl Sgraffito Tile
Jackson Gray of Jackpots Pottery – Surfer Girl Sgraffito Tile

My first tiles were surfers or flowers. My son surfs and I live by the beach. Also,  I love tropical flowers, but inspiration can come from anywhere. I attended a lecture by Hawaiian bird photographer, Jack Jeffrey and was inspired to carve one of his photos of an I’iwi, which is where I started adding a bit of color to my sgraffito. It seemed necessary on that bird.

Jackson Gray of JackPots Pottery - I'iwi Sgraffito Tile
Jackson Gray of Jackpots Pottery – I’iwi Sgraffito Tile

Another time, a friend got a new dog and I had to carve it – which has led to an interesting custom option, I’ll make a tile of your pet from a photo. I recently sent tiles to a gallery that is having an exhibit entitled “Homage to the Ranches” – the night I saw the title, I lay in bed, pre-sleep with a busy mind – and an old 1950- something pick-up truck popped into my head as a “ranch truck”, which then led me to the internet to see what those lines actually look like.

Jackson Gray of JackPots Pottery - '50's Pickup Truck Tile
Jackson Gray of Jackpots Pottery – ’50’s Pickup Truck Tile

I personally love hand-building with slabs of clay, though I throw occasionally. Are you primarily a hand-builder? Why? 

I am primarily a hand-builder. I have a wheel and am an OK thrower, but I never became really good at throwing. When I try to make a set of something the same size, I just have much more luck if I start with a template – and then there’s that texture thing. It can be so crisp when put on a slab.

Jackson Gray of JackPots Pottery - Carving a Linoleum Mat
Jackson Gray of Jackpots Pottery – Carving a Linoleum Mat

Can we talk about your wholesale business? I noticed that you are a member of indieMe.com which is formerly wholesalecrafts.com. How do you balance the retail and wholesale side of your pottery business? 

I only have the framed tiles on IndieMe.com right now. Quite frankly, I haven’t done much there, so balancing isn’t difficult. I probably should do more to promote that side of business. I spend a lot of time with my Etsy site.

You will be teaching a weeklong workshop this summer at the Mendocino Art Center in Northern California called, “Patterns, Seams and Darts: Sewing Up Pots With Personality. Did you apply to teach, did the art center reach out to you, or how did you find the opportunity to teach at such a wonderful place?

I applied to and was fortunate to be accepted to sell at the American Craft Council Show in San Francisco in 2016. Evan Hobart, the program director from the Mendocino Art Center, was in attendance promoting their summer workshops. He saw my work and asked if I would like to teach a sgraffito workshop – which I did last summer.

Jackson Gray of JackPots Pottery - Darted Tripod Textured Mugs
Jackson Gray of Jackpots Pottery – Darted Tripod Textured Mugs

A few days into the sgraffito workshop, I showed the class how to make a tri-foot mug. Evan loved it and asked if I’d like to come back this summer for a longer class and teach hand-building. It feels pretty special to me since the first workshop I ever travelled to attend was in Mendocino, so I’ve circled back to the beginning.

Where do you primarily show and sell your work? Craft Shows, galleries, online?

Before this year, I would say most of my sales were at weekend craft shows, I did quite a lot of them. In 2015 I think I did 15 or 16, which feels like a lot to me. But, my Etsy shop has started doing better which makes the idea of all that packing & unpacking, schlepping and setting up the booth seem like so much more work…I am at retirement age, after all.

Jackson Gray of JackPots Pottery - Water Color of Husband Taking Photographs
Jackson Gray of JackPots Pottery – Jackson’s Husband Taking Photographs

Who or what inspires you? 

Nature…birds, rocks, trees, the clay itself, other potters and their enthusiasm, my husband and his love for the outdoors – which motivates me to get out and experience nature.

Jackson Gray of JackPots Pottery - Big Horn Sheep Inspiration
Jackson Gray of Jackpots Pottery – Big Horn Sheep Inspiration
Jackson Gray of JackPots Pottery - Big Horn Sheep Sgraffito Tile
Jackson Gray of Jackpots Pottery – Big Horn Sheep Sgraffito Tile

What do you do for fun outside of pottery?

Hahaha, see the previous question. We’ve always camped – roll out a pad and a sleeping bag on the ground. If the weather permits, we skip the tent. But as I mentioned earlier, we are getting older and bought a camper last summer. We are planning several trips this summer. After the Mendocino workshop, we’ll continue on to Oregon for the solar eclipse and a gathering of muddy friends from the EtsyMudTeam.

We also like to hike and cross-country ski. Although a shoulder injury has kept me away, but I’ve been repaired and look forward to next season.

Jackson Gray of JackPots Pottery - Manta Ray Inspiration
Jackson Gray of JackPots Pottery – Manta Ray Inspiration

Snorkeling – In September I had a blast swimming with manta rays on a night snorkel in Hawaii and a few days later, dolphins joined us

We also love to travel and have been lucky enough to visit several countries.

I’m pretty involved with 2 of my grandkids who live nearby – unfortunately the others (we have 8 total) are not close.

Jackson Gray of JackPots Pottery - Ava Makes a Mug
Jackson Gray of Jackpots Pottery – Ava Makes a Mug

I read mysteries, watch way too much television, listen to music and NPR, and humor my cats

Where can people find you? 

Online:

Wholesale:

  • indieMe.com – I’m artist #26526 and if a visitor password is needed, use JaxPots

In Person:

Upcoming events:

The workshop that I am teaching at Mendocino on August 14–18, 2017 is all I have scheduled this year since my husband will be retiring soon. We plan to explore this country a bit, but here is the link to register for the workshop: http://www.mendocinoartcenter.org/Summer17/Gray.html


I publish interviews with artists whose primary medium is clay once a week, every Friday. This regular segment is named “Feature Fridays”. Find past interviews on the Ceramicscapes Blog using the category search function on the right hand sidebar. Interested in being featured? Visit the Apply for Feature Fridays page for more information.

CeramicScapes Will Be At The Spring Horseshoe Market

I’m still recovering from last weekend’s three day spring Colorado Potter’s Guild Sale. It’s like having a hangover, if one can actually over indulge in pottery. But, there is no rest for me this week because I’ve been getting ready for this weekend’s Spring Horseshoe Market which takes place on Saturday, May 13, 2017 from 9am – 4pm. This event is outdoors and luckily, good weather is in the forecast.

ceramicscapes Will Be At The Spring Horseshoe Market

Spring Horseshoe Market 2017
Spring Horseshoe Market 2017 Poster

I really enjoy participating in one day market events and I especially like the way Horseshoe is curated and organized. There will be over 120 vendors including me and my booth mate, Sarah Christensen Ceramics. Sarah is also a member of the Colorado Potter’s Guild

CeramicScapes - Ceramic Macrame Wall Hanging Test
CeramicScapes – Ceramic Macrame Wall Hanging Prototype

What am I bringing?

In some ways, I will have completely different work than what I brought to sell at the Colorado Potters Sale last weekend. I’m going to have new ceramic/macrame hanging wall art work, 6 hanging planters, wall planter pods, a handful of mugs, and various sizes of dishes (ring – platter sized).

The finished ceramic macrame wall hanging above is the first one that I made and it sold at the Colorado Potters Guild. I just fired my kiln yesterday and have 5 more. (see above) My kiln is still just a little too hot to unload right now, but fingers crossed, they all survived. 

CeramicScapes - Large Wall Planter
CeramicScapes – Large Wall Planter

Larger Wall Planters

Also, I made three larger wall planters as a prototype for a client who is interested in replacing some that she purchased elsewhere that cracked over the winter. In the end, the ones I made are not large enough. Mine are approximately 9″ wide. I took a photo of a standard wall pod next to it for scale comparison.

Horseshoe Market Swag Bags

At every market, the organizers of the Horseshoe Market give away “swag bags” to the first 50 customers in line to get into the market. The bag itself is screen printed with the market logo and can be reused as a market or grocery bag. The bags are filled with goodies that vendors donate. I am donating 50 ceramic heart gift tags. 

CeramicScapes - Ceramic Gift Tags For Swag Bags
CeramicScapes – Ceramic Gift Tags For Swag Bags

They’re easy to make and it takes an extra couple of hours out of my making cycle to finish. I do it for the good will and the hope that at least 50 people will be curious enough to check my booth out. 🙂

That’s it for today. On Friday, I will be sharing the ceramic work of Jackson Gray who hails from San Diego, CA.

Ceramic Bird Totems + Thank you for coming out to the Colorado Potter’s Sale!

First, I want to thank everyone who visited the Colorado Potters Guild Show this past weekend! I am so humbled and honored at how well my new ceramic bird totem sculptures were received and am pleased that all but 1 of my sculptures sold.

Thank you for coming out to the Colorado Potter's Sale!

Ceramic Bird Totems

As prototypes, I made 2 larger stacked ceramic totems that featured a bird on the very top. Unfortunately, I only have a photograph of one of them. I do have some rough photos of the work in progress that I can use for future iterations.

CeramicScapes Large Ceramic Bird Totem
CeramicScapes Large Ceramic Bird Totem – Roughly 2 Feet High

My thought in making these stacked sculptures is two fold. I am interested in sculptural art work and other than the ceramic wall pod installations that I have made in the past, I’ve never made sculpture. I didn’t know if I have the capacity, interest or even the market for the work.

CeramicScapes Ceramic Bird Totems
CeramicScapes Ceramic Bird Totems – The Smaller Ones Are About 8″ High

Amazingly, I have the interest and the market! I am pleasantly surprised at people’s reception. It’s affirming and wonderful to know that people really like the new work. I’m happy to say that I had one of my best shows ever in terms of comments and sales. It’s enough to keep me going! 

CeramicScapes Small Ceramic Bird Totem
CeramicScapes Small Ceramic Bird Totem

Ceramic Garden Stakes

8 ceramic birds that I envisioned as garden stakes also made their appearance at the potters guild show. I will be making more sculptural work for the garden in the near future, including totem stacks. I sold all 8 garden stakes by the morning of the second day of the Colorado Potter’s Guild show. Displaying them required a bit of on the fly thinking. I lugged a terra-cotta pot filled with Mexican beach pebbles to Denver that I picked up at a local hardware store to use for the display.

Ceramic Bird Garden Stakes - Display
Ceramic Bird Garden Stakes – Display

My rigged display is pretty heavy, but it works to hold the garden stakes in place.

Spring Horseshoe Market

In the meantime, I need to finish decorating some greenware today that I plan on bisque firing tomorrow. I’m participating in a one day craft market this Saturday, May 13, 2017 in Denver, CO at 46th and Tennyson. If you’re in the metro area, please stop by and say hello!

I’ll be sharing a booth at the Horseshoe Market in Denver with Sarah Christensen Ceramics.

Olinger Moore Chapel
4345 West 46th Ave
Denver, CO 80212

9:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Meet Noelle Horsfield of Full Circle Ceramic

Noelle Horsfield owns and operates Full Circle Ceramic, a handmade ceramic studio and shop located in Huntington, WV.  Full Circle Ceramic is a community clay studio where Noelle teaches classes and produces a full line of functional ceramic wares and gift items. Noelle decorates her work with distinct illustrations with a refreshing edginess that amuse and delight customers from across the country.

Noelle Horsfield - Full Circle Ceramic
Noelle Horsfield – Full Circle Ceramic

Please Introduce Yourself:

Hi there, everyone! My name is Noelle Horsfield and I own and operate Full Circle Ceramic in Huntington, WV.

Noelle Horsfield of Full Circle Ceramic
Noelle Horsfield of Full Circle Ceramic

How did your clay journey begin?

I was a painting major in college. I’m actually still just a few credits shy of a degree. Imagery, language, form and the different processes of creating art has always interested me and I played around with a bunch of different mediums until I finally found my way to ceramics.

I think this period of exploration was necessary in order for me to develop a studio practice that is uniquely my own; it was a gathering up of skills that I then turned into my own way of working. As soon as I put my hands in clay, I knew I had finally found the right medium for me…there is no getting bored with ceramics as there is always a new challenge or problem to solve.

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I “met” you back in the blogging heydays around 2008. If I remember correctly, you were living in Maine at the time and were a resident artist at Watershed. At the time, your work was so different than its current incarnation. Can you pin point the stylistic shift?

I don’t know and I go back and forth on how different the work actually is at the core. Back then I was working in earthenware and making big chunky forms that had a lot of sculptural additions with all the color in my work coming from slips that I mixed myself. It was very sweet, and, for lack of a better word, whimsical in nature.

Noelle Horsfield - Earthenware Work
Noelle Horsfield – Earthenware Work circa Watershed days

The technical aspects of my work have definitely changed drastically as I have been working in cone 6 porcelain and white stoneware for the past 4 years. Mishima and sgraffito processes form the decorative and illustrative aspects of the work. However, I feel like the playfulness and sweetness is still present in the work. It’s balanced with a dose of profanity or maybe some of the darker parts of my nature. Maybe the earlier work just seemed a bit too one sided and I needed to inject the work with some reality…bringing a little weird to the party never hurt anyone.

Noelle Horsfield - Stay Weird Plate
Noelle Horsfield – Stay Weird Plate

Speaking of blogging, do you still have your old blog and website? I can’t find it anywhere on the interwebs. Do you think blogging is still relevant?

I wish I still had the old blog if only to go back and read my thoughts from my time at Watershed! I’m not sure how interested anyone was in my day to day blog posts back then but I felt like I was offering a unique look inside, spending time at an artistic residency retreat like Watershed.  That other artists seemed to gain some insight into that experience through my posts made me happy.

The decision to stop blogging is really just due to time constraints as well as the idea that Instagram and Facebook allow for a fast and easy way to connect with my customers and audience in a very visual way. I do think longer form blogging still has a place in the online community but I think the writing needs to be really smart and thoughtful. Posts should be heavy on photographs, and be regular and dependable. These are all things that I feel like I just don’t have time to commit to right now.

Noelle Horsfield - Cut Paper Art
Noelle Horsfield – Cut Paper Art

For a time, it appeared that you stopped creating with clay and had switched to the art of paper cutting. As someone who is interested in many art forms myself, it’s a direction I understand well. Can you elaborate on your creative detour?

After living in Maine where I had freedom to create ceramic work in my home studio, at Watershed, or in the studios at Portland Pottery, my husband and I moved to Massachusetts where I found myself without access to a ceramic studio at all. While I love ceramics and the process of working in clay, I am a maker at heart and I needed to have the ability to make something. Cut paper collage is a medium that I worked with a bit in college so I returned to this art form as a way to fulfill myself artistically. 

I feel like I made a lot of nice work and even had a couple of solo shows in Northampton, MA. Greeting cards made from my original collages are available in my shop in Huntington. It is interesting to see people enjoying this work alongside my current ceramic pieces.

Noelle Horsfield - Carpe Diem Platter
Noelle Horsfield – Carpe Diem Platter

In my opinion, the art of swearing isn’t appreciated enough. For this reason, I love how you’ve embraced adding a well placed curse word in your current clay work. It’s just the sort of levity that is desperately needed today. I also love the irony of using profanity on ceramics, an art that has a history of being a “keepsake” or special occasion item. Having one of your platters reveal itself on a holiday table would have been so interesting when I was younger…. Can you speak to your use of salty language in your clay work?

My first sentence as a baby was “I’m a damn fine baby!” My grandfather taught me to say this as a kind of parlor trick…it was a hit and I think it just stuck with me. I began putting profanity on ceramics about 3 or 4 years ago now and people just really seem to have fun with it and appreciate the honesty and humor that goes into the work. Sometimes the work might get a little bit confrontational but I mostly try to stick with what I like to call “positive profanity.”

Noelle Horsfield - Don't Be A Dick Plate
Noelle Horsfield – Don’t Be A Dick Plate

I don’t normally make things that say “fuck you” and even my biggest seller, which is “fuck that shit” is intended to mean “fuck all that shit that brings you down or makes you feel less than enough or feels like too much for you to bear.” Balancing the profanity with sweet animals, some floral designs or anything that helps to lighten the tone of the piece is important. It makes the profanity a little easier to take. Everything has a particular role to play.

Noelle Horsfield - Weird and Wonderful West Virginia Platter
Noelle Horsfield – Weird and Wonderful West Virginia Platter

I’m curious about your new business, Full Circle Ceramic in Huntington, WV. It appears that you’ve moved your studio into a retail space and now offer classes as well as other types of products outside of ceramic work. To be honest, I’m a little jealous. What prompted this move and how is it working out for you?

Well, having a retail shop and a working studio in the same place is definitely a balancing act but it seems to be working for me thus far! Like most ceramic artists, I spent years working in a home studio and sending things out to galleries and shops with some online sales here and there. This is a fine business  model and it works great for some people but I was left feeling very alone and isolated in my studio.

I craved interaction with my customers and I really needed to be able to have more of a work/life balance. If I  stepped out of the studio to let the dogs out, before I knew it I would be caught up in household chores and hours had passed away from the studio. The idea of a shop where I could both create and sell my work has been on mind for a long time. When the opportunity to lease a space in an old train station complex in Huntington presented itself last spring and I jumped on it.

Full Circle Ceramic Studio and Gallery
Full Circle Ceramic Studio and Gallery

Full Circle Ceramic Studio and Gallery

We opened in June 2016 and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. I sell my finished work, t-shirts and stickers with my own designs, some jewelry, my Dad’s original stained glass art, and the work of a few other local ceramic artists as well as taking custom orders in the shop. The floor space is about 1/3 retail selling space and 2/3 work space. So, I am able to work in the studio and talk to customers at the same time, stopping when necessary to run the cash register or meet with customers for more in depth consultations.

I was a little concerned about the local reaction to the profanity and edgy nature of my work but people have been really kind and welcoming and most people just really get a kick out of it. It’s so fun seeing customers come in and interact with the pieces in the shop. You don’t get this experience when you just box things up and shop them off to a gallery. And, let’s be honest, it’s fucking awesome to get full price for a piece rather than giving half of it to a gallery right off the top!

Can we talk about your tattoos? I love yours! I understand that tattoos are often very personal. From the outside looking in, yours remind me of your ceramic work. Is there a correlation?

Noelle Horsfield - In the Studio Carving a Plate
Noelle Horsfield – In the Studio Carving a Plate

Thank you so much! I think my tattoos bring to mind my ceramic work because both my tattoos and my pottery reflect my personal design aesthetic. There isn’t much difference between my life and my work so everything tends to swirl around and it just becomes a way of life. My tattoos are both a form of self expression and a way of collecting artwork.

The tattoo artist has a general idea of what I would like for a particular tattoo and where I would like to see it on my body and then I allow them the freedom to create something beautiful for me. I have never been disappointed with what they come up with and I know that I do my best custom work when I am afforded this same freedom by my own customers.

Noelle Horsfield - Love Trumps Hate Platter
Noelle Horsfield – Love Trumps Hate Platter

Who or what inspires you?

My inspiration sources are pretty varied and I try to always stay open to new patterns, colors, thoughts and ideas. I have always been a big reader and I listen to audiobooks as much as possible when I’m working in the studio so I get a ton of inspiration from words and stories that find their way into my head. I also collect little snippets of quotes and ideas from NPR and the podcasts I listen to. Some health problems have plagued me and Frida Kahlo has become a sort of personal inspiration and patron saint of mine as well. I also LOVE folk art and outsider art from Appalachia and around the world.

Noelle Horsfield - Sometimes You Need Some Crazy Platter
Noelle Horsfield – Sometimes You Need Some Crazy Platter

What do you do for fun outside of pottery?

My husband and I have 4 dogs and 2 cats and taking care of these guys is a big part of our lives. We live near a beautiful park and walk our greyhound Betty there every evening. However, since opening the shop last summer, the line between work and play for me is pretty blurry. This is fine because I would rather be in the studio with my hands in clay than almost anywhere else in the world.

Where can people find you?

Upcoming events:

I mostly stick to the smaller local festivals and events. The shop takes so much time and I often have trouble making enough work to keep up with stocking the shelves, custom orders and wholesale accounts. If you’re in the Huntington, WV area you can find me at:

I would also like to give a shout out to a few shops that carry my work:


I publish interviews with artists whose primary medium is clay once a week, every Friday. This regular segment is named “Feature Fridays”. Find past interviews on the Ceramicscapes Blog using the category search function on the right hand sidebar. Interested in being featured? Visit the Apply for Feature Fridays page for more information.

100 Days of Patterns Update

This is going to be a  short post today because I have been working very hard to make work for the next two sales I am participating in this weekend and next weekend. In today’s post, I’ll be sharing a 100 Days of Patterns Update.

100 Days of Patterns Update

Today is the perfect day to share some of my daily sketches for the 100 Days Project. I am breaking the project into 20 day blocks. For the first 20 days, I concentrated on circles and dots. Currently, I am exploring line work for the second 20 day block. 

Cindy Guajardo LINES 100 Days of Pattern 21-34
Cindy Guajardo LINES 100 Days of Pattern 21-34

Ultimately, this project is an exploration in mark making. By keeping the color palette limited, the project is more cohesive and also takes out a lot of guess work for me. 

After my two shows are history, I plan to start making paper clay tiles using my clay scraps and recycled paper scraps that I’ve been collecting. Then, I’ll begin the process of translating my 100 Days of Pattern sketches to the tiles. I’m pretty excited about this project. It feels ambitious, but at the same time doable since I’m breaking up the project into modules. My next 20 day block will include geometrics. 

Here are a few of my favorites in the line work block:

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True confession though…I worked ahead this week on my sketches because I can not see a way for me to draw the daily sketches during the Colorado Potters Guild show. I volunteered to be the show chair this spring and I have to keep too many balls in the air, so to speak. The days are long.  While I love meeting all of our customers and catching up with guild members, it’s also exhausting. I’m not sure if this is considered cheating, but it sure makes my life a bit easier.


Events:

You will find me at the Colorado Potters Guild Spring Sale May 4-6, 2017.

First Plymouth Congregational Church
3501 South Colorado Boulevard
Englewood, CO  80113
(Hampden + Colorado Blvd)

May 4 – 4:00 – 8:00 PM (Opening reception)
May 5 – 9:00 AM – 8:00 PM
May 6 – 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

On May 13, 2017, I’ll be sharing a booth at the Horseshoe Market in Denver with Sarah Christensen Ceramics.

Olinger Moore Chapel
4345 West 46th Ave
Denver, CO 80212

9:00 AM – 4:00 PM


I missed last Feature Friday’s blog post. Unfortunately, my guest has a very busy show schedule too and was unable to participate due to time constraints. I hope that I’ll be able to share her work in the near future because I’m such a fan. 

In the mean time, despite my busy schedule, I’ll be sharing the work of Noelle Horsfield on May 5, 2017 for Feature Fridays. My post is already formatted – all I need to do is hit publish. I can’t wait to share her work and interview with you.

Soda Firing Process

Last week, I participated in a soda firing at the Colorado Potters Guild. The soda firing process is a gas reduction type of firing and is fairly labor intensive as compared to a regular reduction firing and definitely easier than an electric or oxidation type kiln firing.

Soda Kiln is loaded - kiln packs are visible
Soda Kiln is loaded – kiln packs are visible

Soda Firing Process

In the soda firing process, soda ash (sodium carbonate) in water solution, is sprayed into kiln at maturing temperature, and sodium vapor combines with silica in clay to form sodium-silicate glaze.” – excerpted from Ceramic Arts Daily. It’s a magical process and I’m addicted to the outcome.

My firing partners and I spray the soda ash solution into the kiln ports when cone 9’s have fallen. Cone 9 is the equivalent of 2300 degrees F. We have 2 visible cone packs in the front bottom and top of the kiln. While we have a pyrometer to measure the temperature, we use the cone packs for visual confirmation of the kiln’s temperature. After the soda ash container is empty, we shut down the kiln and plug all the ports and burners. Once the kiln has cooled down so that pots can be handled with bare hands, we unload the kiln. We fired on Thursday and unloaded on Sunday, though, we probably could have unloaded on Saturday.

Soda Firing Process - Wadding Recipe
Soda Firing Process – Wadding Recipe

Wadding

After the soda ash is sprayed in the kiln at maturation, there is a fine layer of sodium silicate glaze over the interior of the kiln and on the kiln shelves. For this reason, we add little clay/alumina wads to the bottoms of our pots so that they do not stick to the kiln shelves. The wadding recipe contains 50% alumina which does not stick to the pots or the kiln shelves.

The wads to leave little circular marks on the pots which are the sign of a soda, salt or wood fired pot.

Soda Firing Adding Wadding to the bottom of each pot
Soda Firing Adding Wadding to the bottom of each pot

Post Firing Clean Up

After unloading the soda kiln, clean up begins. We use silicone carbide scrapers to scrape the glaze off all the shelves and posts. It’s a huge job, but one that goes fairly quick between 4-5 people. We had 5 people in this last firing and were able to unload and clean up in two hours time. Clean up is dirty work – with silica dust flying wildly. We use safe practices and all wear respirators and eye protection.

Penny Woolsey Scraping Shelves
Penny Woolsey Scraping Shelves

Below is a gallery of images if you would like to see more of our process.

Last Making Push Before the Colorado Potters Guild Sale

This weekend marked the very last making push in the greenware stage so that I can finish everything before my next two events.

I’m doing back to back sales in May. My first show is the Colorado Potters Guild Spring Show that runs May 4-6, 2017. I’m also participating in the Horseshoe Market one week later on May 13, 2017. What this means for me right now is that it’s crunch time!

I’ve been making as much work as I possibly can so that I have enough ware for both shows. Inspiration strikes at curious times for me – often when deadlines are looming. So, this weekend really was my last making push with greenware. My goal is to bisque fire my kiln this evening, glaze tomorrow and then we load the soda kiln on Wednesday afternoon at the Colorado Potters Guild.

Ceramicscapes - Last Making Push - Greenware
Ceramicscapes – Last Making Push – Greenware

Did I mention that I’m also the chairwoman of the Colorado Potters Guild show this spring? It’s always a busy time right before the show, but now it feels doubly hectic.

Ceramicscapes - New Form
Ceramicscapes – New Form

New Forms – Creative Exploration

My schedule is busy and also why my creative muse always seem to show up when all pistons are firing…or maybe it’s just procrastination on my part? I’m not sure, but I’m starting to feel the crunch. This past weekend was really the very last opportunity for me to work on any “wet” ware. Of course, I took the opportunity to explore another form that has been lurking in my imagination – again based upon seed pods

This form (see above) doesn’t exactly look like it did in my imagination. I’m going to fire it, but I don’t expect to make it again. It’s just too fussy for my taste. I probably could have used my time a little differently this weekend, but I’ve learned to answer creativity’s call when it happens. 

I’m keeping this post short today, but will return next Monday when I’ll share some of the process of getting work ready to fire in the soda kiln on Thursday at the Colorado Potters Guild.

 

Meet Kathleen Laurie Clay

Kathleen Laurie is one of my favorite local Colorado ceramic artists. She lives in Evergreen, CO – a small mountain town in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Kathleen’s work bridges ceramic and two dimensional art practices such as painting and printmaking. I confess that I have collected several of ceramic pieces over the years.

kathleen laurie

We are both members of the Colorado Potters Guild. What does it mean to you to be a member of a clay community?

I joined the guild 18 years ago after working in other studio/classroom type scenarios. It is a unique space with my clay family. Being a potter usually means working in isolation unless you have found this magical place with my people who speak my language of art and clay.

Kathleen Laurie - Printed and Slipped Covered Jar
Kathleen Laurie – Printed and Slipped Covered Jar

How many years have you been working with clay?

I had my first experience with clay in the 3rd grade. It was a clay epiphany, an artistic lightning bolt. Overall I would say I’ve been working with clay for 40 years with some breaks in between but I’ve always returned to this medium.

Do you have a formal education in clay/art or how did you acquire your skills?

I have a degree in art/art education from Illinois State University. I’ve studied art my entire life. My mother nurtured my interest in all things art by putting me in classes, taking me to museums and encouraging my artistic growth. She was a science teacher and her interest in the natural world enhanced my visual education.

I spent most of my childhood outdoors running around in the woods and nearby swamps (where there was clay!) Over the years I have participated in workshops to learn glaze formulations and form making, some of them at the guild and some as far away as Vancouver Island with Robin Hopper at Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts

Kathleen Laurie - Paper Clay Ceramic Wall Canvas
Kathleen Laurie – Paper Clay Ceramic Wall Canvas

How do you work (techniques/glazing/firing methods)?

My work encompasses wheel thrown pieces, handbuilt pieces, slabs, lots of texture and incising. Sometimes I combine wheel work with slab work. It varies from functional to sculptural. Wall work and garden pieces. It’s all how my brain tells me to proceed. It’s become intuitive. As I throw a large bowl on my wheel, I envision what kind of beautiful salad will live in it and what color glaze to consider.

The firings take place at the guild. I fire to cone 10 in reduction or soda kilns. Glazing is my way of painting. My art background was comprehensive with drawing, painting, printmaking and ceramics. Now all of that training has morphed into my glaze style which is very graphic in nature. Clay has become my canvas. There’s lots of layers of information, lots of marks, lots of overlapping glazes. 

Kathleen Laurie - Tumblers
Kathleen Laurie – Tumblers

What does “being creative” mean to you?

Being creative means having the freedom to explore, invent, fail, succeed, move on, revisit, stall etc. I’ve always been creative and therefore the exacting left-brain talents are weaker. 

Speaking of exploration, you recently confided that you have started hand building more. Can you share some work in progress? 

Kathleen Laurie - Slab Work in Progress
Kathleen Laurie – Slab Work in Progress

I’m doing more hand building at the moment, decorating with slips, textures and decals.

(Editor’s note – I can’t wait to see these in person when we fire next week!)

What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?

Music is part of my studio environment. I work at my home studio. Usually there is a fire in my pellet stove, incense going, I must bustle around a bit, clean up, organize, chat with the cat and after an hour I settle down to some actual work. I work in spurts. Can’t work 8 hours at a time. Procrastination is my nemesis. I jokingly say that I have Studio Attention Deficit Disorder, SADD. It takes a while for me to focus and let go of outside, everyday diversions.

Kathleen Laurie - Ceramic Sculpture
Kathleen Laurie – Ceramic Sculpture

How do you overcome obstacles or difficulties working in clay?

I keep working thru it. If I hit a stall or creative wall, it usually takes some time to get back to work. The drought passes in time and with experience I realize it’s just a temporary incubation where something is evolving into a new design or idea. Sometimes it requires discussing with my guild mates to get past it. YouTube is also a great source of quick training.

Do you pursue any themes in your art work?

Patterns, grids, linear designs, turtles, fish, birds, dragonflies, color.

Kathleen Laurie - Fish Platter
Kathleen Laurie – Fish Platter

Who or what inspires you?

Nature, traveling, reading, museums, artist friends, my guild mates, life experiences. Just about everything I see has a possibility of making an appearance in my clay work.

Kathleen Laurie - Wheel Thrown Ceramic Bottles
Kathleen Laurie – Wheel Thrown Ceramic Bottles

Where do you see your work progressing over the next year?

I would like my work to increase in height and volume! New forms are always on the horizon. Sculpture is happening.

Where can people find your work? 

Online:

Galleries:

The Evergreen Gallery  
The Aspen and Evergreen Gallery in Estes Park  

Upcoming Events:

The Colorado Potters Spring Show May 4-6, 2017

This interview originally appeared on the Colorado Potters Guild website, but has been updated.


I publish interviews with artists whose primary medium is clay once a week, every Friday. This regular segment is named “Feature Fridays”. Find past interviews on the Ceramicscapes Blog using the category search function on the right hand sidebar. Interested in being featured? Visit the Apply for Feature Fridays page for more information.